God and Country
This chapter focuses on the second religious signal: fusing God and country. It examines four ways that presidents have fused God and country in their addresses: invoking the nation; setting the nation apart by declaring it to be special or distinct; calling for national renewal and rebirth; and sanctifying the nation by asking for God's blessing upon it, in phrases such as “God Bless America.” All of these approaches signal an appreciation of religious conservatives' world view, and evidence shows that the past four presidents have far exceeded their modern predecessors in the use of each. Further analysis shows that the past four presidents have also differed from previous presidents in the way they talk about the key American values of freedom and liberty. In particular, recent presidents have adopted a “prophetic” posture that suggests a certainty about God's wishes or desires. This stands in stark contrast to the more humble “petitioner” posture that characterized presidential rhetoric prior to 1981.
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